Dixie owners worried about employees

By Adelle Whitefoot

A fire destroyed the restaurant portion of the Dixie Bar, Grill and Bottle Shop north of Two Harbors early Monday morning, and caused damage to the rest of the structure.

Two Harbors Fire Chief Mark Schlangen said the fire was reported at about 2:30 a.m., and the building was fully engulfed — with flames through the roof — when the Two Harbors and Silver Bay fire departments arrived on scene. The restaurant portion of the building was a complete loss; the bottle shop was still standing, but took a lot of damage from the fire.

As news of the fire spread, there was an outpouring of support and sadness on the restaurant’s Facebook page. Many people driving by the scene later in the day saw the damage and stopped to give their condolences to owner Scott Larson.

“I really don’t go on Facebook much, but my wife informed me of the support and it’s really overwhelming, the amount of support we have from the community here in Two Harbors and on the North Shore,” Larson said.As business owners, Larson and his wife tried to be involved in all aspects of the community that they could.”

That’s what we pride ourselves on the most as a business and it shows in the support that we’ve received back from the community,” he said.

Many in the community have asked the question of what’s next for Dixie, and Larson said what’s next in an unknown.

“You don’t realize the amount of information that we have to gather regarding this situation just to make the next decision,” he said. “It’s overwhelming the amount of things we are going through. I think what’s next is a decision that will be made after months of information.”

When asked if there was anything the community could do for him and his wife Deanna, Larson simply said that he and Deanna are fine.

“My biggest priority right now is making sure our employees are OK because I consider them all very close to us,” Larson said. “We’ll do everything we can to help out our employees.”

Larson had 12 employees working at Dixie and sees them all as part of his family.

“My heart goes out to our employees,” he said. “We’re a very tight knit group and I consider all of our employees like family. It’s difficult enough for us and to see our employees have difficulties too just really makes you realize how close we really are.”

Larson said he wants to thank the Two Harbors Fire Department for their effort and dedication to do everything they could to save what they had. Larson served on the fire department for 23 years.

“It’s a group I feel very close with and I just really appreciate their efforts,” he said.

The THFD showed appreciation for the Larsons as well posting on its Facebook page, “Our thoughts are with Dixie owners Scott and Deanna Larson. The Larsons are part of our THFD family. Scott served over 20 years with THFD and also served as fire chief for the department. Dixie was always giving back to the community as well as continued support for THFD. Your THFD family is here with you.”

Dixie Bar, Grill and Bottle Shop, located about 8 miles north of Two Harbors on county Highway 2, has been a landmark in the area for more than 50 years with a strong local following — a popular stop for snowmobile riders in the winter and anglers heading north in the summer. The restaurant reportedly was named after the daughter of a previous owner.

Scott and Deanna Larson bought the business — at the time known as Dixie’s Saloon and Deli — in spring 2007 from previous owners Terry Hood and Ona Heimstadt, who had owned it for 17 years.

It was the first business venture for the Larsons, who over the years renovated the building and added the bottle shop and gas pumps. It’s been a family affair, with the Larsons’ children helping out. Many family items were lost in the fire such as Scott Larson’s father’s old lunch pail as well as personal pictures of his parents. Larson said the loss of that family history really weighs on him.

The cause of the fire still remained under investigation on Wednesday.